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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  August 6, 2018 4:30am-5:01am BST

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this is bbc news, the headlines: more than 80 people have been killed on lombok island in indonesia. hundreds more are being treated for broken bones and head injuries. the search and rescue operation is continuing, but is being hampered by power cuts. last week an earthquake killed at least fifteen people in the same area. venezuela says six people have been arrested after an attempt was made to kill preisdent maduro at a military parade in the capital, caracas. the preisdent blamed a right—wing plot by forces within venezuela, and the colombian president, for the apparent attack. colombia says the accusation is baseless. a second world war vintage plane has crashed in the swiss alps, killing all 20 people on board. the aircraft had been returning from locarno in the south of the country, and is thought to have been carrying tourists. swiss police say the 80—year—old plane came down on a remote mountainside in the east of the country. now on bbc news, hardtalk‘s stephen sackur in conversation with canadian psychologist
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jordan b peterson. welcome to hardtalk. i'm stephen sackur. anger is a powerful force in politics and there is a lot of it about. donald trump, brexit and a host of populist movements have been fuelled by anger with the way things are. where does it come from? how best to respond? well, one much—discussed provocative perspective comes not from a politician, but the canadian clinical psychologist jordan peterson, whose defence of traditional values has won him a worldwide following. is his diagnosis liberating or dangerous? jordan peterson, welcome to hardtalk.
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thanks for the invitation. at the beginning of this year, you wrote this book, 12 rules for life: an antidote to chaos, and in the six or seven months since, around the world it has sold pretty much two million copies. pretty extraordinary. yes. you have struck some sort of a chord, why do you think that is? because i'm having a serious conversation with my viewers and listeners and readers about how to structure their lives individually and the relationship between responsibility and meaning and it's a level of discourse or a level of analysis that people don't often have an opportunity to participate in or to hear. it is filling a need in our culture, apparently. a search for meaning, is it also appealing, reaching out to people, and in particular men, from all the surveys, men who are angry and feel
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lost and alienated ? well, i don't think it's reaching out to them because they're angry, i think it's reaching out to people who are alienated, certainly there's lots of people who are alienated. i think it's focused to some degree on young men because my youtube channel is very popular and most people who watche youtube happen to be young men. so that's skewed the listening audience in terms of that demographic. it isn't obvious that it's only young men buying the book, it's much more mixed. there are many books out there and many published over the years published that talk about a meaningful life and how to live it and you call your rules for life, you could characterise it as a sort of self—help. there are very little of those sorts of books that go into great detail about the dangers of marxism, talk about the history of mao's china, stalin's soviet union.
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there's a real political content to your book, and i wonder why you are so preoccupied with reminding your individuals, who you say are searching for meaning, reminding them so repeatedly and so often about the dangers of totalitarian communism. well, i'm not. there's only a section in one of the chapters that actually deals with that, although there are motifs that run through it, but it's more a matter about being concerned with collectivist ideoligies in general and the dangers of idealogical thought as a means for guiding yourself through light. one of the failures that characterised the communist totalitarian states and equally on the fascist side, was the failure of individual character. because, for example, in the soviet union, and equally in places like mao's china, people were called upon to falsify their own experience, to lie in the service of the state, to say things they needed to say
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and not stand up when they should have stood up. i wonder if it's your analysis, if you look around the world today, particularly the western world, where you focus your attention upon, you see a real danger of some sort of renewal of a neo—marxist tendency in society. you certainly see that in universities, the universities in north america and to some degree in europe as well, are, especially in social sciences and humanities, completely dominated by left—leaning political agenda, the stats on that are crystal clear and most of that has been generated byjonathan haidt and the heterodox academy. there are very few centrists or right—leaning people in the academy, and that means that the discourse on campuses has become increasingly radicalised. the problem i have with that isn't the fact that it's left—wing, it's the fact that it is extreme and if the same was happening on the right i would be equally perturbed about that.
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but it's not. the problem is that we as a society don't know how to parameterise the excesses of the left. that's a problem. we know perfectly well that left can go too far. it happened many times over the course of the 20th century, but we don't know when and so we don't know what the danger signs are, the markers. with your focus on what you see as the real dangers of the left and its totalitarian inclinations... that's not my focus. my focus is on the necessity of people to adopt individual responsibility. if i may continue my thought. what it seems to me beyond doubt just by reading your own writings and the reactions to yoru writings, is that you have found a way of appealing to and winning the sympathies of a great number of people, who, to be crude about it, are supporters of donald trump, who are by nature it seems interested in the populist movements that we see in many different parts of the world right now and some of whom identify with this phrase the alt—right. i wonder how you as a psychologist and an academic feel about the nature of so many of the people who sympathise with you. i don't think it's true.
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i think that's a vision of followers, i don't think of them as followers, i think of them as viewers, readers and listeners. i know them perfectly well. i've talked to 150,000 in the past three months at 55 live events, i understand my audience and i know perfectly well that the vast majority of them are there because they were rather disoriented in life for various reasons, and have decided to develop a personal vision and to take more responsibility and to try to tell the truth as best they can and that that's actually helping them a lot. that's what's happening. the thing is... but would you recognise there's an overlap between the sorts of people who can deeply sympathise and find a resonance in your message, and many of those who have turned to donald trump in united states right now? not some overlap, there's 30 million people watching my videos, so there's overlap across the entire political spectrum. the thing is, in the discussions i have had with people,
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let's say in the mainstream media, about the response to me, there's a chronic and constant attempt to make it political. it's not political. what i'm doing is not political. it's psychological. of course, but you can't control the way in which your words and your messages are perceived and used. i'm kind of interested to know whether you are worried about it. of course i'm worried about it, but i also know i've received hundreds of letters from people who have indicated quite clearly that they were attracted by blandishments of the alt—right and have been led to the political centre as a consequence. would it be fair to say that one of the core messages of your book is that we underestimate the power and the relevance and importance of old stories and myths, including the christian bible, but also including a host of other stories which you say have survived the test of time and tell us truths about ourselves which many people today, and you i think
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you would then say many people in academia today who are into constructivism and relativism, are missing the truth of old verities. would you agree with that? yes, i would say that's definitely a theme that runs through the book. there's wisdom in traditional stories that we need to understand, not merely believe, but also to understand. and so for example last year, i did a series of 15 lectures on genesis and most of that audience was young men and that has been viewed by millions of people online now. the bible in particular, you say for better or worse it's the foundational document of western civilisation, it's careful and respectful study can reveal things to us about ourselves and what we believe and how we should act more than can be discovered in most any other story. the bible is central to your belief systems? no, it's central to western culture. it's the foundational document of western culture.
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and this word truth, which is quite an important word for you, you think the bible contains irrefutable truth? well, i don't know what irrefutable means necessarily, but it certainly contains a form of truth, it's a narrative form of truth. it's the same form of truth that you see presented in front of you when you go see movies, for example, or when you read great literature. there's a truth in that. movies are fiction. but look, we wouldn't be able to rank order fiction according to its quality if it didn't bear some relation to truth. as you know, this show is aired right around the world and has millions of viewers who are not from a tradition at all, they may be hindus, muslims, they may be animists, but how can they therefore refer to your 12 rules for life when they are so wedded to the culture and traditions and the truths of the bible? well, i also draw on other traditions extensively throughout the book
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and also in my first book. but the attitude that i'm taking towards the stories that our culture is predicated on is one that people from all over the world find engaging. so it's because these stories are deep enough and significant enough so that there's plenty of room at the table for everyone to have an intelligent discussion about them. and i'm not necessarily saying that... i'm not saying at all that there isn't wisdom to be derived from other traditions, but i do see destabilisation in our own culture about our fundamental values and because our values, at least in part, were derived from judaeo—christian writings then it's useful, as faras i'm concerned, to return to them to discover what they mean. we've heard from your fear of totalitarianism, as you see it evidenced in the 20th century. we also know that you regard the bible as a foundation stone of your thinking, here's
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what a fellow canadian philosopher, paulthagard, has said about what he sees as the weakness in your argument. he says, "peterson assumes that the only alternative to religious morality is some form of totalitarianism or despondent nihilism, but secular ethics have flourished since the 18th century, he talks about david hume, emmanuel kant, jeremy bentham, you don't seem to get any real importance to other secularists. i don't think that's true at all. i have great respect for enlightenment doctrines and it is clearly the case that our unfortunate situation poltically right now is the consequence of something of a marriage between his old stories. the enlightenment doctrines upon of which countries like england are founded. i'm a scientist with many published works and so i am perfectly aware of, despite the criticisms of that particular philosopher,
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perfectly aware of the utility of the enlightenment approach. but to think that humanist values, let's say secular values, have flourished for a long time and then to call that 200 years only means that that philosopher and i have very different ideas about what a long time is. i'm an evolutionary biologist by the way, not a poltical philosopher, my timescale is thousands of years, not hundreds of years. i wonder how you then conceptualise the importance of change. a lot of your work is about constancy and finding truths in the very deep past. but what about the importance of change? if one thinks about everything from the emancipation of women, equality for women, think about gay rights, think about civil rights. these are changes that we've seen in our societies in the last 50 yea rs and many people think that your philosophy actually has no place to change at all. it runs counter to change. all that means is that they actually haven't read it. one of the things i point out
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very clearly in the book is that you have an internal guide to meaning. it's an instinct. it's a manifestation of something called the orienting reflex, which is a very deep instinct and what it does is try to place you on the border between stasis and transformation, where you need to be, in order to survive properly you need to maintain your structure, but you have to update it in the face of constant challenge. for people watching this, let's ask a basic question. if i were living in the late 19th century in the uk as a man, i may well have persuaded myself that the natural order of things is for men to have the vote and women not to. if you were living at that time, with your regard for tradition and long—term eternal truths, you might well side with those who oppose the emancipation of women. well, assuming that my primary emphasis is on the maintenance of tradition, but, like i said, it's not. my primary emphasis is on the ability for people
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to live in a context that's defined by active meaning. and so, for example, to the degree that we're engaging in a discussion here that's actually going on to be meaningful to both of us and to people who are watching it, what that will actually signify is that we've done a properjob of staying within a tradition that is general so we can understand it and sufficiently updating it at the same time. to stick with equality for women, why do you argue that society today has been overly and dangerously feminised ? well, because i see a backlash against masculinity and the sense that there is an toxic about it as such. what is this idea... why is society overly feminised? i never said that. if we're going to discuss my views, we should my actual words. i believe that there is a danger in our society at the moment of making the assumption that our culture, for example, and that any act of engagement on the part of young men
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in particular is indistinguishable from an unacceptable power and dominance drive, which i don't believe. all of that is inappropriate and incorrect. if much of the power and authority, of a very long historical period has lay with men, isn't it only inevitable that some men will get a little hacked off when women are given a stab at something approaching equality? well, that could be inevitable but that doesn't make it right, and it's certainly not something i support. so you think men's resentment is more important than women's effort to attain equality? i'm not in favour of resentment at all. i think if you're resentful then something's definitely wrong. even you need to grow the hell up and take stock of your life, or you have some things to say to people that you haven't been saying. you say science undoubtedly shows us that men and women have different traits, and there's a lot of science to back you up on that, but you say because of that, men are hardwired to achieve success
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and to be successful in a way that women are not. no, not at all. i've never said anything like that. i've said there are biological differences between men and women that express themselves in temperament and in occupational choice, and that any attempt to enforce equality of outcome is unwarranted and ill—advised as a consequence. and yet some of the most successful societies, judged on contentment indices, or indeed material success, are those, for example, in scandinavia... where the temperamental differences between men and women are larger than they are in any other society. so you say, you point out in scandinavia many more women choose to be health workers than engineers, for example. it's not what i say, it's what the large—scale scientific investigation has revealed. fair enough, but equally, scandinavia is full of societies, one could point to norway, where they've made a specific legislative effort, for example, with a quota of 40% of women on corporate boards, or a quota for women to be in parliament. they've specifically engaged in social engineering, and it seems to be working and it seems to be... it doesn't seem to be working particularly.
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..forgive me, but norway is top of every contentment index we see across the world. 0k, well, first of all, norway has plenty of oil money, which is definitely contributing to that. and second, it depends on what you mean by working. there's no evidence, for example, that the legislation designed to increase the number of women on boards has produced any movement whatsover in the number of women who hold managerial and administrative positions in norway. the theory was that as societies became more egalitarian, that men and women would become more the same, but that isn't what's happened. what's happened is the biggest differences between men and women now temperamentally, and in terms of their own interest, have manifested themselves in the scandinavian countries. so what that will mean is men and women will make different choices in occupation if you let them have free choice. now, what are we supposed to do? are we supposed to stop that from happening? is that the feminist perspective? let's go back to a word i used before, and ask you directly, do you approve of... do you think... it's a dangerous word, equality, this word equality. i approve of equality
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of opportunity, but equality of outcome situations are detestable and dangerous beyond belief. so to you, whether it be gay rights campaigners, civil rights campaigners, or indeed women's rights campaigners, if they want to see equality deliverable in outcomes, they are damaging society, are they? depends on how far they go with it and how they measure it. i mean, these are very difficult technical issues. that if your a priori axiomatic assumption is if there are differences in outcome, those are a consequence of patriarchal oppression, then it's a nonstarter as far as i'm concerned because there are multiple reasons for unequal outcomes. do you think it was helpful for you to base a lot of your science about the difference between genders on lobsters? i haven't based any of my science on the difference between men and men and women and lobsters. you talk about how lobsters and humans behave the same, and in that context... the only thing that i've said... "..girls aren't attracted to boys who are theirfriends, they are attracted to boys who win status contests with other boys," and you describe that in the same
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breath as you describe how male and female lobsters behave. it doesn't makes thosecases, that's a truism of evolutionary biology. if you want to know the consequence... is it a truism of evolutionary biology that what we learn from lobsters we can apply to humans? some of it is because the neurochemical structures are very, very similar. and it's also the case that... i'm no expert... yeah, but i am. i know you can command a lot of science that i cannot, but it seems on the face of it to be somewhat bizarre to compare lobsters and humans given the different size of their brains. it is bizarre, that's exactly why i did it, because i was trying to make the case because one of the chronic leftist criticisms of western society is its hierarchical nature, and that's often put at the feet of, let's say, western society, patriarchy and the capitalist system. it's part of the marxist critique. but hierarchies have been around for 350 million years, so you can't place them at the feet of the western political system, and they've been around for so long
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that our neurochemical systems have evolved to match their existence. i mean, is it study of lobsters that's also one of the foundations for your belief that, you know, a mother and a father are crucially important to the raising of a child. it's certainly the case they're crucially important if you compare them to single parents, because all the the developmental literature says the outcomes for children who have two parents are much better than the outcomes for a child with one. and physical punishment for children, efficacious as far as you're concerned? minimum necessary force is the proper principle for discipline in any sort of relationship, and you have to negotiate that with your child and anyone else you interact with, and that's defintely the theme that motivates chapterfive, which is called do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them. 0bviously discipline for children is necessary and negotiating how that's going to be done is very difficult. it's interesting, you are an advocate, in essence, of toughening up for...
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you say things like, you know, men have to, i don't know if you ever use the phrase, but others do, man up in the way they consistently fail to... actually i usually mention they should stop being pathetic weasels. i guess that would fall into the toughen up category. i guess what odd thing about you and how the public debate about you has worked out is that you seem so brittle and thin—skinned about criticism. well, i suppose you might make that case but i don't think my media experiences have demonstrated that. i would say quite the contrary. your media experiences... your social media experiences do suggest that. one of the best—known critiques of your work from pankaj mishra in the new york review of books had you so angry, i mean, half the language you used i can't repeat but you called him an arrogant, racist son of a... you know what. you said that you would happily slap him if he was in the same room as you. that's right. that's because he referred to a friendship i had with a native
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canadian guy of several decades and said i was romancing the noble savage, which i regarded as an indefensible statement and if he had been on the right, you would be sure he would have been torn to shreds by the twitter mob. what about some of the values you tell all of us we must try to pursue. humility is one of them, you say you must assume the person you're listening to may know something you don't. yes, you should try to do that on the off chance they can tell you something you don't know. you see that as just an off chance? it was an ironic comment. i'm more convinced i would rather know some things that i don't know, and i do listen to people very, very carefully, just like i'm listening to you very, very carefully and i do do that because i would rather know some things that i don't know than be completely sure that what i already know it is correct. that doesn't mean i won't defend my points, but i'm very good at talking to people and listening to them, i've been doing it for thousands and thousands of hours and i've learned plenty from people that i disagree with.
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your success is very striking, and ijust wonder, you talk a lot about success and what leads to success. has your success made your life more meaningful? i would say yes, but it's... in what ways? well, it's more intense, the stakes are higher, the impact is larger, the amount of responsibility i bear for what i say has increased, and the number of people that i'm affecting has grown immensely. and so all of that's associated with a deeper sense of meaning but it's not without its cost. i have to be very careful for all sorts of reasons. so i'm trying to be very careful, bearing in mind that what i'm saying is going to be disproportionately impactful. but i do believe, mostly from watching my audiences, let's say, on my public tours, that the primary effect that i'm having is in helping individuals establish themselves more firmly in their personal and public lives, and that that's working very well. jordan peterson, we have to end there but i thank you very much
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for being on hardtalk. my pleasure. thanks for the invitation. hello. it's been a weekend of contrast across the uk. scotland and northern ireland have seen more cloud with some outbreaks of rain at times. england and wales have seen plenty of sunshine and it's been very warm if not hot. but some changes to come through the week. slowly we start to lose the heat. it will feel fresher for all of us, an increasing chance of seeing some showers and also still some sunshine, and it's sunshine we'll continue to see for much of england and wales on monday underneath this area of high pressure. meanwhile, for scotland and northern ireland, these fronts will continue to bring more cloud, and also some outbreaks of rain. but slowly it will ease through monday and become increasingly more patchy, maybe a little bit of rain possibly get into the far north of england through the afternoon. equally some breaks of cloud in eastern scotland. after we've lost the mist and low cloud on the western coast, lots of sunshine for england and wales, feeling warm, with 31 or 32 possible in east anglia and south—east england. still 23 celsius for eastern parts of scotland in the best
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of the sunshine. through tomorrow evening, for most it will be dry with clear skies again for england and wales, before mist and low cloud reforms on western coasts. still a zone of cloud from scotland to northern england could produce a bit of drizzle at times. temperatures dropping to between 12 and 16 celsius in many areas, 17 or 18 maybe still in south—east england. we still have the front going from monday into tuesday. it's a weakening feature as it slips south and east. still a band of cloud stretching from scotland down into parts of wales and south—east england. and it's a dividing line really between the fresher air behind it and still holding onto the heat and warmth further south and east. tuesday will be the last hot day that we see for some time across south—east england. you've still have that zone of cloud, as i mentioned, stretching down from scotland into wales and that could bring patchy rain for a time on tuesday. but it will fizzle out and actually by tuesday afternoon, most areas will become
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largely dry with sunshine. temperatures still exceeding 30 celsius across east anglia and south—east england. the fresher feel further north and west, but it is the last of the hot days. actually through tuesday evening, we could well see some thunderstorms developing across eastern and southern england. as they start to clear away, we'll all be in something fresher as we go into wednesday and thursday. certainly the case across much of scotland, northern ireland and northern england. still some showers around here through wednesday and thursday. but notice the drop in temperature further south and east. many places still dry with an increasing chance that some of us could see some showers. bye— bye. this is the briefing, i'm david eades. our top story: more than 80 people are now known to have been killed by an earthquake on the indonesian island of lombok and is the second to strike in the last week. and investigation is launched after
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a world war two vintage plane crashes on a sightseeing flight into a swiss mountainside —— an investigation. all 20 people on board were killed. shock and despair in chicago as police confirm at least 59 wounded and four killed in gun attacks over the weekend linked to gang violence. and with an amazing rally on the last day, england's georgia hall claims her first major victory at the british open. europe's largest bank, hsbc, reports half year earnings. has new ceo john flint‘s plan for expansion in asia succeeded?
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